Praying for Mothers This Advent
As Christmas Day comes closer and closer, I can’t get Kate Cox and her family off my mind. The fear in her voice haunts me from a recording I heard of an interview she gave to NBC news. I can’t recall her exact words, but every mother understands the fear and exhaustion in her voice. You feel it in the very pit of your stomach as it radiates throughout your body. It goes without saying that I’m deeply sorry for the cross she has been asked to carry and the suffering that it requires.
As I pray for her and for her husband and children, I am thankful for the wonderful blessings in my own life. I have known women over the years who have also been given this diagnosis. And in those cases, those families were surrounded by love and support, and those mothers, even in their grief, each considered it the utmost privilege and blessing that her womb would be the home on earth where her little child would be healthiest, happiest, and thrive the most until he or she returned to the Creator.
Those of us who could help said extra prayers and started the meal trains early; we entertained older children with extra playdates so these moms could rest and store these things up in her heart. All of us considered these sickest of babies extra special blessings, our trivial contributions to the family a privilege. And as the birth of those babies approached, we were anxious. You never know how long the family will have with these precious babies, sick as they are. But I have never heard a mother describe the experience as anything other than a blessing; every moment she and her family had with the child was treasured, full of joy and life, no matter how short or sorrowful.
So the suffering of Kate Cox and moms like her is especially painful and troubling. How is it that the same situation can be treated so differently — one approach to embrace life, and the other approach to pursue death? Surely, the women in Kate’s community supported her, and supported (encouraged?) her decision to end her baby’s life. What different worlds we inhabit, though we live in the same country. In my state, there are no limits on abortion; in Kate’s state, she sought judicial “relief” to be “granted” an abortion. My community is blessed with pro-life medical doctors who provide the best of care for families with difficult prenatal diagnoses. Kate’s doctors were giving very different advice that pitted her against her own child.
Texas doesn’t have an exception for sick babies in its pro-life law. And thank God. To have such an exception would be to endorse eugenics, and to legalize the idea that my baby is so sick we can kill her before she dies a natural death. Such a law would imply that a woman cannot endure that circumstance and loss. It’s ironic that women’s rights groups will undermine the strength of mothers by implying there are burdens we cannot bear, love we cannot give, or that our children, no matter how difficult, sick, or disabled are not worthy of every possible chance at life and that we will not move heaven and earth to give it to them.
I have resisted writing about this situation, mostly because it’s impossible to be understood and this story is not about me. Genuine sympathy and grief can be perceived as condescending judgement. I am not going to pretend to agree with the decision to abort any baby. When I heard that Kate had left the state to seek an abortion, my heart broke. I realized that I had been thinking of this situation as “a pro-life issue” or a “legal battle” or a “political struggle.” It is all of those things, but it is so much more. It is a chance for all of us to try to love our neighbors better, as Christ would and does. It’s been a while since my friends were having babies. Some of my friends are blessed with grandchildren at this point! Has our nation and culture moved so far from a Culture of Life toward a Culture of Death? Do we kill people because they are sick or have lives we think are too difficult?
On Christmas Day, when we put our baby Jesus in his manger and thank God for the extraordinary gift of his son, I will say an extra prayer for all us moms: the joyful, the worried, the grief stricken. A prayer of thanks for all our blessings and trials and especially for our motherhood. I will remember the Cox family and I hope you will too. Come, Lord Jesus.
Meg Kilgannon is Senior Fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council.